Trading standards inspections and visits
We aim to prioritise and target our inspections and visits using sound, relevant intelligence and risk assessment on the areas that need them most, that is, where risk assessment shows that both -
- a compliance breach or breaches would pose a serious risk to a fair and safe trading environment and
- there is high likelihood of non-compliance
to accurately identify persistent offenders quickly.
What happens on an inspection or visit
We perform announced and unannounced inspections and visits to businesses.
What we do on an inspection or visit depends upon the goods or services the business provides and what we consider to be the most appropriate means of checking whether the business is complying with the law.
Our inspections and visits include -
- programmed risk based inspections to check -
- weighing / measuring equipment - for example scales in shops, pumps at petrol stations
- labelling and ingredients of foods and non-food products
- safety of electrical goods, toys, furniture and other items sold to members of the public
- accuracy of descriptions used for everything, from car mileage to clothing
- accuracy of promotions and offers
- test purchases and/or sampling of goods and services
- project work where a specific hazard is investigated
- compliance checks where activities are monitored and test purchases may be made but there is no physical visit made to the business premises (for example for an Internet businesses, mail order or telesales)
- joint action and advice visits with officers of other agencies with whom we have an enforcement role (for example environmental health services, police, and HM Revenue and Customs)
We recognise that most businesses want to comply with the law. In view of this -
- we will try, where possible and taking account of all relevant issues, to help businesses and others, with their responsibility to comply with the law without unnecessary expense
- we will provide information, advice and guidance, where possible when it is requested by businesses, and to do so proactively where this is practicable in clear, concise and accessible language, using a range of appropriate formats and media. When offering compliance advice, we will distinguish between statutory requirements and advice or guidance aimed at improvements above minimum standards. Advice will be confirmed in writing, if requested
- we will only require data and information from businesses when it is strictly necessary for us in carrying out our enforcement activities
When businesses are inspected or visited
How often a business will be inspected depends on nationally agreed guidelines for the type and size of business, and the goods or services provided. These guidelines assess the potential risks and consequences of failure to comply with the law. There are three risk bands -
- high risk - inspected every year
- medium risk - inspected every two years
- low risk - inspected every five years
Test purchases, project work and other forms of compliance check may be conducted with same, more or less frequency depending upon the relevant intelligence and risk assessment.
Our findings on inspection or other enforcement action can affect the risk rating of a business.
Find out more about enforcement actions